Last edited: February 14, 2005


Louisiana Sodomy Law Upheld

Data Lounge, November 22, 2002

NEW ORLEANS, La.—Louisiana’s 197-year-old law banning all oral and anal sex has been upheld by a state appeals court, the Associated Press reports. A three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal ruled 2-1 against the challenge by the Louisiana Electorate of Gays and Lesbians Inc. and nine lesbian and gay individuals, leaving Louisiana’s sodomy law intact.

"This decision continues to put Louisiana outside the mainstream," said John Rawls, an attorney for LEGAL, a gay and lesbian group. "We are still the only state whose courts deny a right to privacy to its citizens; we are still the only state whose courts have upheld sodomy laws; we are still back in the 18th century, unfortunately."

Since the early 1980s, courts in New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Kentucky, Tennessee, Montana, Maryland and Georgia have thrown out sodomy laws. "It could still be appealed to the Supreme Court. We’ll make our comments in court," said Allan Pursnell, a spokesman for the state Attorney General’s Office.

The state has argued the law is needed to promote marriage and encourage procreation. The state has also contended it has the authority to outlaw what it defines as immoral conduct and impose penalties for engaging in it.

The 4th Circuit ruling, handed down Wednesday, was the latest action in a complicated case that Louisiana gays and lesbians have compared to the fight against segregation and other crimes against humanity.

In March 2001 a trial judge ruled the statute an unconstitutional violation of privacy. But on March 28 this year, the state Supreme Court shot down Judge Carolyn Gill-Jefferson’s ruling.

Still pending were numerous other issues, dealing mainly with discrimination.

Conviction under the law carries fines up to $2,000 and prison time of up to five years, but that is in keeping with other laws, making it not "cruel, unusual and excessive punishment," the opinion said.

"That statute obviously expresses Louisiana’s overarching public policy to treat its gay citizens like scum. The rest of the opinion speaks for itself," Rawls said.

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